The Desire to Disappear

Disappear by SIMindy“Sometimes I wish I could disappear,” I told Father Elton once while I was doing the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises last year.

“Of course you do,” he said. “You want to do as you were told.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“That memory you had of yourself as a toddler, when you were crying and your sibling squeezed your cheeks…”

The image returned in full force: I’m sitting on the couch with my mother beside me. She is holding our baby brother, and my four-year-old sister and six-year-old brother are in front of me. They’re angry. One of them squeezes my cheeks together so hard I feel the flesh pressed against my teeth. I hear: Be quiet! Nobody asked you to be here.

I inhaled deeply and returned to the present, to Father Elton’s kind eyes and safe words.

“You were expected not to exist, something you couldn’t do,” he said.

“But I keep trying.”

I remember the first time I was tempted by the delicious desire to disappear. I felt drawn to float away into an imaginary black hole where nothing was expected of me.

But under that temptation is a deeper desire: the desire to be heard, welcomed and comforted, the desire to be real and accepted.

These are desires God longs to fill and prayer opens up a way for God to do it. That is why Ignatius asked “retreatants”* to spend an hour a day fully present to God.

Each morning I would sit on the couch in my study and ask for the grace I needed to pray with a gospel story and imagine myself in it with Jesus. Then I talked with Jesus about what I saw or felt and listened to his response.

I met with Father Elton weekly and shared what I had experienced in that dedicated time of prayer. “Jesus never seems to get tired of showing me how precious I am to him,” I told Father Elton more than once.

Every time I did, he smiled and nodded, as if he could see me materializing before his very eyes.

Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4 (NIV)


Questions for your Lenten pilgrimage:

  • Are you carrying a painful image from your past?
  • Is there someone kind and safe you could share it with?
* “Retreatants” are people participating in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, either as a 30-day retreat or for one hour a day over the course of seven or eight months.
“Disappear” by SIMindy. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2014
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013, 2014

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Childhood, Ignatian Spirituality, Lent, Spiritual Direction, Stories and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Desire to Disappear

  1. Pingback: Resisting the Sirens | An Everyday Pilgrim

  2. Pingback: Joyful Mysteries and Silent Dreams | An Everyday Pilgrim

  3. Pingback: What Brought You Here? | An Everyday Pilgrim

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